Preliminary response to the State of the Nation Address
20 June 2019
The South African Communist Party welcomes the overall progressive thrust of the State of the Nation Address delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa in Parliament on Thursday, 20 June 2019. The SACP will produce a comprehensive assessment of the address in due course. However, a few strategic points merit underlining.
The President delivered the opening State of the Nation Address for the sixth democratic term of government a day after the 106th anniversary of the brutal Native Land Act passed on 19 June 1913 by the oppressive colonial regime that was established in our land. His recognition of this historical fact was programmatically important. The Native Land Act became the legislative means by which the long established history of bloody colonial land expropriation was further advanced and deepened. Consequently, the expropriated majority were confined to 7% of South Africa’s land.
It is therefore essential to speed up land restitution and redistribution to ensure equitable access to South Africa’s natural resources and undo the imbalances created in the past as provided for in the Constitution. It is however equally important to recognise that the imbalances are continuously being sustained by the capitalist market. As a result, it is vital to resolve the historical injustice of land expropriation and everything that was lost with it on a sustainable basis. To this end the SACP reiterates its principled support for the adoption of legislative and other measures, including the review of Section 25 of the Constitution. The SACP will accordingly engage with the outcomes of Cabinet’s consideration of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.
The SACP welcomes the announcement that government will table a Special Appropriation Bill on an urgent basis to allocate a significant portion of the R230-billion financial support that Eskom requires. The SACP will further engage with the details that the Minister of Finance has been assigned to provide in due course, and reiterates its stance that the terms of the restructuring at Eskom in search of a success model must be negotiated with trade unions and other stakeholders with the concerted aim of seeking consensus.
The SACP concurs that the South African economy was designed to serve the interests of a few. However, while millions of our people have realised commendable social progress since our April 1994 democratic breakthrough, the reality is that there was insufficient if any structural transformation of our economy and national production development. It is therefore crucial to decisively implement the second, more radical phase of our democratic transition with greater emphasis placed on the economy.
State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) have a strategic role to play in driving economic transformation and development and must be revitalised. Governance decay and corruption have contributed greatly to the crisis that a number of our SOEs were plunged in. It is therefore essential to ensure decisive consequence management and accordingly hold those who were complicit in the rot to account, including through prosecution and asset forfeiture.
In addition, there must be a review to better define the mandate of SOEs. The SACP welcomes this announcement, and will place emphasis during the review process on the transformative and developmental mandate of SOEs and their realignment to fulfil it. Moreover, the operating environment of SOEs requires fresh examination. To this end the SACP welcomes the announcement that the government will work the leadership of SEOs to develop a legal and regulatory environment that will promote innovation, agility and success. The SACP will engage with the details as it would do in the case of Eskom.
Adequate support for co-operatives development and small enterprises, including lowering interstate rates and thereby a reducing the cost of finances for productive investment must be prioritised. The alignment of monetary policy and broader macro-economic policy co-ordination to support re-industrialisation, manufacturing diversification and innovation will go a long way in fostering an enabling environment for co-operatives and small enterprises to thrive.
The SACP will therefore continue engaging on the important question of the role that the South African Reserve Bank should play in relation to employment growth targeting on explicit terms in the interest of fostering transparency and accountability.
The SACP welcomes the commitment to infrastructure development and the vision for a South Africa with safe and reliable rail networks, including high-speed rail infrastructure connecting our megacities and the remotest areas of our country. This should be anchored in the wider national imperative to ensure a safe, reliable and integrated public transport system and the development of new cities including the upgrading of our towns. The history of backwardness, uneven rural-urban development and prohibitive internal connectivity should be rolled back systematically.
Last but not least, the SACP welcomes the efforts announced to deal not only with corruption but also with criminality in general. These include the recruitment and training of more police officers to improve police visibility, safety and security in our communities. It is important to tackle both the effects and root causes of the multiple crises of social reproduction including the social insecurity and criminality afflicting many of our communities. A strong focus is required as an indispensible component of this national imperative to clampdown on gender based and child abuse and violence as well as on discrimination, abuse and violence against people with disabilities.
Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, National Spokesperson & Head of Communications, SACP, 20 June 2019